Thursday, March 17, 2016

ARC Review: Wink Poppy Midnight

Title: Wink Poppy Midnight
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Publisher: Dial Books/Penguin
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Format: eARC
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

“The intrigue of The Raven Boys and the "supernatural or not" question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Virgin Suicides, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced.”

Where to even start with this review, with this book? When a book is compared to The Raven Boys, I am equal parts intrigued and skeptical, so I went into Wink Poppy Midnight cautiously optimistic. This book turned out to be a magical, atmospheric, weird experience that kept me enthralled from the very first page.

Split into rapid fire changing POVs from Wink, Poppy, and Midnight, this book feels very fast paced even though relatively little action actually happens. I didn’t find any of the main characters particularly likable, but they were each captivating in their own way. Wink, obsessed with fairytales and committed to living one out, was the character I thought I’d love most going into the story, but I ended up feeling distanced from her to the point of mistrusting her most of all. Poppy is at least up front about the fact that she’s manipulative and mean, and I came to appreciate her cruel honesty. I think I struggled the most with Midnight: I alternated between thinking he was unassuming and sweet on one page, to gullible and weak the next. He is far overshadowed by his female counterparts.

That being said, the writing enthralled me. Tucholke’s writing is gorgeous, and she has crafted a novel so atmospheric that I fully expected to be in the woods, surrounded by mist when I looked up from the page. I’ve seen some people complain about the repeating of words and phrases throughout the novel, but I honestly wasn’t bothered by it. If anything, it added to the otherworldly sense of the book. As the reader, you spend the entire book wondering if there really is magic at play here. Wink Poppy Midnight feels so much like a magical realism story, and I felt like it was really building up to that. Ultimately, there is something far more sinister at play.

I pride myself on seeing plot twists a mile off – there have been very few times where a book genuinely caught me off guard. Wink Poppy Midnight messed with my head and kept me completely unsure of what was happening the entire time. I thought it would go one way, and then the story weaved and dived away from me into something far weirder. It must be said, by the way, that this is a genuinely, wonderfully weird book. But it’s also just as manipulative as its characters.

Where things fell apart for me, however, was the ending. I found the ending to be confusing (and not in the enjoyable way of the first 75% of this book) and ultimately unsatisfying. Maybe Tucholke wanted to keep things a bit mysterious and open ended, but I felt that it was a lot of build up to a weak ending. It was like eating a delicious slice of chocolate cake, only for the last bite to turn to dirt in your mouth. That was a bit dramatic, but the point stands. I will always prefer a strong ending over a muted one.

Don’t mistake my critique for displeasure. I absolutely adored Wink Poppy Midnight. It is its own fairytale, while simultaneously preying upon and playing against fairytale tropes. Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain. Every story needs a secret. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Which one are you?

*I received a free ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top 5 Classics I Want to Read

It is a truth universally acknowledged that I don’t read many classics. Of course I spent years reading them for school, but the amount of classics I’ve read for pleasure are few and far between. Lately, however, I’ve found myself acquiring beautiful editions of classics, stories I’m drawn to now that I would have passed by before. This is probably in part because I’m following more and more classics readers in the book community that are inspiring me to read outside of my usual YA box.

Today I have five books to share with you, either recently acquired or long possessed, that I want to read soon.

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen. The only Jane Austen novel that I’ve read is Pride and Prejudice (I know, shame on me), but Persuasion has really appealed to me lately. A book about second chances, Anne Elliott’s story really appeals to me as someone else who wants another shot. This is my friend Amanda’s second-favorite Austen (after P&P, duh), and she promises me this is wonderful and romantic.

2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I watched the BBC miniseries of North and South last year, and I immediately knew I’d have to read the original. North and South is probably best described as the northern, industrial version of Pride and Prejudice, with more socio-economic themes and conflict. Southern and genteel Margaret Hale is forced to move north with her family, where she meets John Thornton, the cotton mill owner who seems to embody all of her prejudices against the north. They obvs have some quips and misunderstandings and ultimately fall in love, but lord knows there’s nothing I enjoy more than a “from hate to love” story. Plus, if you haven’t seen the BBC miniseries, you need to. Richard Armitage as John Thornton is SO DREAMY Y’ALL.

3. Villette by Charlotte Brontë. This is 100% because of Alycia at exlibris. She reviewed this book on her channel and I immediately knew I needed to read it. Villette is lesser known in comparison to Charlotte’s beloved Jane Eyre, but it’s a story that I can relate to more personally. Lucy Snowe moves to a small village in France to teach at an all girls’ boarding school. While there, she struggles with isolation and loneliness, as well as a romantic subplot. Lucy is apparently an unreliable narrator, which always makes for an interesting reading experience. We’ll see if I end up enjoying this more than Jane Eyre.

4. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I mentioned this in my 2016 TBR Challenge post, and I still haven’t read it, whoops. I’ve had it for ages and at this point, it just needs to be read. I don’t have anything particularly inspired to say, other than I keep seeing this on my shelf and think, “yes, I know I’m neglecting you. Some day soon I’ll get around to it.” Plus, this is such an iconic book with intriguing themes, so I do genuinely want to read it. It’ll happen.

5. A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf. Way back in the day, younger Jane did not get along well with Virginia and Mrs. Dalloway, to my professor’s eternal frustration. Years later, I never thought I’d be this excited to read anything by Woolf, but I am so looking forward to reading A Room of One’s Own and its sequel of sorts, Three Guineas. Adapted from lectures, A Room of One’s Own is arguably Virginia Woolf’s most famous, and most feminist, essay. In the extended essay, Woolf argues for women to have their own (literal and figurative) space in the male-dominated world of literature.

Those are the five classics at the top of my TBR! What are some of your favorite classics? Do you have any recommendations of classics you think I’ll enjoy? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Month-Long Weirdathon TBR

When I heard about the Month-Long Weirdathon being hosted by Outlandish Lit (thanks to the lovely Brittany at Under The Radar Books), my first thought was YES, SIGN ME UP. While I read a lot of standard YA/Fantasy fair, I do love to read really weird shit every now and then. Weird books make a big impact, whether you love them or hate them…you’re definitely going to feel some kind of way about it. I decided to make a shorter TBR list as a starting point, and any updates or changes will be made here or on Twitter.

Some of these may not be weird by your standards, but each of these books has something that is different, at least for me, and has some element that will take me out of my comfort zone.

1. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. My friend Lizz read this recently, and recommended that I pick it up. This science fiction story follows an all-female crew as they travel to the supposed Eden called Area X, where all previous exploration crews have gone missing. This is the first in a trilogy, and I’m excited to see what creepy, weird things happen when the crew arrives at Area X. Plus, bonus points for all-female cast of characters.

2. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke. I received an ARC of this that I need to read and review this month, but luckily this seems like it’ll be a bit weird. Two books, one stone. This has been compared to The Raven Boys, which…tall order, but I’m intrigued. There’s a question of whether or not something supernatural is happening in this mysterious and strange story.

“Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.”

THROUGHOULY INTRIGUED. This is one of my most anticipated March releases, so I hope it’s weird and enthralling and perfect.

3. Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn. Yeah, you know this book is going to be fucking weird by the title alone. Our MC is a straight-laced stickler for the rules who never does anything unexpected – until a hot pterodactyl boy transfers to her school and joins a band. I swear this is the weirdest sounding book I’ve ever encountered, but I’m pretty excited.

4. The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson. I’ve never read anything by Jeanette Winterson before, but I figured this was a pretty good opportunity. Our main characters, a pilot named Billie and a robo-sapien named Spike, are sent to colonize a new planet for humans to inhabit, and are also falling in love. From what I understand, there’s also a reincarnation story line or sorts, so this is just checking off all the weird boxes.

5. Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie. I’ve heard about this series for a while now, mostly thanks to Liz Loves Lit on YouTube. Ancillary Justice, from what I can gather, is about a soldier named Breq who used to be a starship with artificial intelligence, but is betrayed and forced to inhabit a human body. Now she’s out for revenge. I put off reading this for so long because the premise sounds crazy weird, so now is obviously the perfect time to finally read it.

Those are the five books I have for my Weirdathon TBR, but if you have any suggestions of weird books, please share! Also, let me know what some of your favorite weird reads are.